Day 2: Misery (Movie #324)
Misery was the second Stephen King novel I ever read. I was in college and I had just finished Pet Semetary which had greatly disturbed me. I was prepared for another disturbing read but I was not prepared for how dark and frightening the novel truly would be. There have only been a handful of books that made me feel so sick to my stomach reading the levels of anguish and torture Annie Wilkes unleashes on her favorite writer Paul Sheldon.
At the time I was working at a video store and decided to rent the movie immediately afterwards. I was not looking forward to the experience. I was sure that the visual adaptation of what I had read would (for a lack of a better word) destroy me internally forever. It didn't… completely anyway.
This is definitely one of the better adaptations of King's work (though not my favorite). It really is a triple threat of quality having a script written by William Goldman based on a Stephen King novel directed by Rob Reiner. Every single one of those people have a resume full of masterworks (as well as a fair amount of fumbles). Thankfully everything clicked just right in the production of this film (including the spot on casting of Kathy Bates as Annie).
The Hobbling scene really fucked me up. Since the first time I saw this movie it's remained one of the rare moments in a film where I really feel the need to look away as it occurs. For the sake of this however I kept both eyes straight ahead and suffered through it. 24 Years later the simple effect still sends chills down my spine.
But it's not about visual graphic gore that makes this movie works so well, it's the complete insanity of Annie. There are moments where she's so warm and sweet followed by immediate moments of pure insanity. Suddenly like a flicking of a light switch she goes back to sweet and kind. It's the fear of every man on his wedding day (or at least mine) "what if this woman can turn into Annie Wilkes in an instant."
The film builds and builds to a fantastic conclusion. While it's a movie I frequently revisit it has nothing to do with how I perceive it's quality. It has everything to do with it's constant sense of dread being so well executed that I have to be in a specific mood to dive into the dark and bleak world that is Annie Wilkes.
FUN FACT: After 20 years of silence King revealed that Annie is actually a metaphor for his struggles with addiction. This was the first time I watched this movie with that in mind and it's definitely is an interesting way to look at it.
Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to Geekscape.net, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon. He also loves it when people surprise him with purchases from his Amazon Wishlist… just saying.